Monday, December 28, 2009

Archbishop Lyke

Today is the day that Archbishop James P. Lyke, of Atlanta, passed away in 1992. We had only been back in Atlanta for a short while before his passing so we never had the privilege to hear him preach.

Although his tenure was short, he made a lasting impression of the Archdiocese.

You can read more about his remarkable life here.

Sunday, December 27, 2009


For you viewing pleasure, I have attached the Pope's Urbi et Orbi. Courtesy of


Sunday, December 13, 2009

A Formation Year Ends

Yesterday, my classmates and I finished our third year of diaconate formation in the Archdiocese of Atlanta. We had only a short time to reflect since we still had a full day of classes, three papers to turn in and a final exam in Moral Theology.

But during that short time, we were amazed by many things. First, how quickly the time has flown by. It seems like yesterday when we met each other as aspirants; concerned if we would fit in or even if they would let us stay. Second, our attitudes had changed quite a bit. It is no longer perceived as a competition on who can make the best grades but a journey; and one we want to travel together. It is no longer about our personal success, but of our collective success. Each and every one of us will do all we can to help our classmates succeed; all the while knowing that it is still a personal journey with God. We learned that it is not a question of whether you could meet some particular criteria that the Church desired in a Deacon. No, it is a discernment process on each of our parts to ask the question: Is God calling me to this ministry? The Church's role is to validate that call.

We have lost a few dear men in the last three years. Each of them are wonderful men but found that serving as a deacon is not what God was calling them to do. It was not an easy decision for these men because it is not black and white. It is something that comes from the heart. The remaining 13 men in the class are still on that same journey of determining whether this is what God wants us to do; and we still have two years to go.

But it is nice to reflect for a moment on the process. For soon enough, we will be back in class, too busy to stop and think about this journey.

And pray for us so that we are able to rest during this break and to continue to have the strength and wisdom to discern what God put us on this earth to accomplish.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Thomas Merton

Today is the anniversary of Thomas Merton's death. For me, the writings of Thomas Merton were a revelation and my introduction to Catholic Spirituality. It takes me a long time to get through his books because I need to adsorb them; portions are so rich that it becomes a sentence by sentence process.

There is a great story about a recent visit to the Abbey of Gethsemane by James Martin, SJ over at America.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

The Feast of the Immaculate Conception

Today is the celebration of the Immaculate Conception of Mary (and a Holy Day of Obligation to attend Mass for Roman Catholics). Although the concept of the Immaculate Conception of Mary is a very old tradition (St Augustine spoke of it), it was not until the 19th century that the Pope Pius IX declared it a dogma of the church.

What is the Immaculate Conception? For Catholics, it means that Mary was conceived without original sin. I have heard many people say "How can that be?" or "How did it happen?".

I prefer to take the approach of our Eastern Catholic tradition where having to understand the details of this mystery is a futile exercise. I like the sound of mystery; something that cannot be completely understood, but feels right in your heart.

Monday, December 7, 2009

St Ambrose Feast Day

St Ambrose was born around 339 in what is now Trier, Germany. He was born to a wealthy Roman family and came to the City of Rome after the death of his father. He rose through the administrative authority of the empire and eventually ended up in Milan. After the death of the Bishop of Milan, Ambrose was elected Bishop.

In my opinion, a turning point in Church history is illustrated by one of the actions of Ambrose. At that time, Emperor Theodosius was involved in a military campaign that lead the the murder of 7,000 civilians in Macedonia. Ambrose wrote a letter to the Emperor and threatened to excommunicate him unless he publicly repented as well as do his penance in front of the citizenry. To everyone's surprise, Theodosius did just that.

This is the first example that I am aware of where the authority of the Church extended to the leaders of the empire. The Church had the power to bring a ruler, literally, to his knees. After Theodosius' death, the empire slowly fell apart, leaving only one institution, the Church, left to pick up the pieces.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Prohibition on Recieving Commumion on the Tongue

A friend has made me aware that this year, the Bishop of Calgary has banned the reception of the Body of Christ on the tongue. The basis for this ban appears to be fears over the H1N1 crisis. In all of my studies, the ordinary method of reception of the Body of Christ is on the tongue. Reception on the hand is considered an "extra-ordinary" method.

So the question to ask is this. Does a Bishop have the authority to ban the reception of the Eucharist on the tongue. In the document Redemptionis Sacramentum (RS), put out by the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacrament and approved by John Paul II in March 2004, the congregation is "always" allowed to receive on the tongue and the only possible ban is for the reception of the Body of Christ on the hand (RS:92).

Therefore, it seems to me that the Bishop has the authority to ban reception on the hand but not on the tongue since this is the "ordinary" method.

What do you think?

You can read more about this issue here and here.

John Cardinal Foley Retires from Christmas Mass Commentary

To me, Cardinal Foley is a legend. His voice during Christmas Mass at the Vatican is such a part of the sounds of the season. For me, it will not be the same this year.

You can read more about the announcement and hear his legendary sign-off at Whispers in the Loggia.